A court in Istanbul on Wednesday, February 24, sentenced three Turkish nationals to prison for aiding the former head of the Renault-Nissan alliance Carlos Ghosn in his incredible flight from Japan to Lebanon in December 2019. The Turkish legal proceedings shed light on the spectacular conditions of the escape of the fallen tycoon, aged 66, who, sued in Japan for financial embezzlement, left the country hiding in a trunk for a musical instrument. After making a flight between Osaka (western Japan) and Istanbul aboard a plane from the Turkish private jet rental company MNG Jet, Carlos Ghosn went to Beirut on a second aircraft from the same group. .
On Wednesday, a senior official of the MNG Jet company, Okan Kösemen, and two pilots were sentenced to four years and two months in prison for “migrant smuggling”, according to a journalist from Agence France-Presse at the Istanbul court. . They were also ordered to pay a fine of more than 30,000 Turkish liras (approximately 3,500 euros). The three men, who risked up to twelve years in prison, will remain free during the appeal proceedings. The court also acquitted two other pilots and two flight attendants who were on trial alongside them.
” Scapegoats “
The two convicted pilots, Noyan Pasin and Bahri Kutlu Somek, are those who were at the controls of the plane that flew between Osaka and Istanbul. At trial, they dismissed the charges, arguing that they were unaware of Carlos Ghosn’s presence on board the aircraft. “In what world are pilots being asked to check what’s in baggage? (…) We were asked to drive and that’s what we did, ”Noyan Pasin defended himself on Wednesday. “We are scapegoats. Nobody asks how this baggage (in which Carlos Ghosn was hidden) was able to pass police and customs checks in Japan, ”he added.
“I didn’t expect this condemnation. There is no concrete evidence. I am surprised, ”Noyan Pasin told Agence France-Presse after the hearing. According to the Turkish prosecutor in charge of the prosecution in this trial, the exfiltration of the former boss of Renault-Nissan was prepared with a thoroughness worthy of a military operation.
According to investigators, Carlos Ghosn notably made the trip between Osaka and Istanbul concealed in a bulky musical instrument box in which 70 holes had been drilled in order to allow him to breathe. Two alleged accomplices of Carlos Ghosn, Michael Taylor, a former member of the American special forces, and George-Antoine Zayek, a Lebanese national, “recruited” Okan Kösemen, part of the MNG Jet company, to ensure the smooth transit to Istanbul. . The Turkish authorities accuse in particular Okan Kösemen of having received several transfers for a total amount in excess of 250,000 euros in the months preceding the escape of Mr. Ghosn.
According to the indictment, the private jet landed at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul. Soon after, Carlos Ghosn boarded a second aircraft which took off for Beirut, where the former heavyweight in the auto industry still resides.
Carlos Ghosn, holder of three nationalities (French, Lebanese and Brazilian) and who is the subject of a request for arrest by Interpol, remains out of reach of Japanese judges, because Lebanon does not extradite its nationals. Lebanese justice, however, prohibited him from leaving the country. In addition to the main trial in Japan, Carlos Ghosn is also involved in several legal investigations in France, relating in particular to suspicions of misuse of corporate assets at Renault and the Dutch subsidiary of Renault-Nissan, RNBV.